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Live From The Current Studio

Blitzen Trapper describe selling albums in a singles market

  Play Now [19:12]

by Bill DeVille

October 12, 2015

Blitzen Trapper - Lonesome Angel (Live on 89.3 The Current)
by MPR
Blitzen Trapper - Love Grow Cold (Live on 89.3 The Current)
by MPR
Blitzen Trapper - All Across This Land (Live on 89.3 The Current)
by MPR
Blitzen Trapper 1
Blitzen Trapper drummer Brian Koch and frontman Eric Earley performing in The Current studio.
MPR photo/Nate Ryan

With Blitzen Trapper, the conversation quickly turns to numbers: They've been together 15 years, they've released eight albums to date, and — as The Current's Bill DeVille points out — their recent visit to The Current's studio marks their sixth visit to the station, not including a 2008 interview at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

Supporting their latest album, All Across This Land, Blitzen Trapper stopped into The Current's studio the day after playing a show at First Avenue in Minneapolis.

Having been together 15 years, DeVille asks the Portland, Ore., outfit if they've exchanged watches. "We just gave each other colds," drummer Brian Koch jokes.

All joking aside, the band members — Eric Earley, Eric Menteer, Brian Koch, Mike Van Pelt and Marty Marquis — share some thoughts about how the music industry has changed in the time they've been together. Here are highlights from that discussion:

On the state of the music industry today versus in 2000, when Blitzen Trapper began:
Earley: "It's worse; I think pretty much everyone across the board would agree with that. Just the saturation levels, the lack of payment, it's gotten worse as far as the business goes. The live show has become sort of the only thing that pays, which is cool for people like us who love to play and travel and all that, but it's a grind, too."

On selling albums in today's market:
Menteer: "It's more of a singles market. People just download one or two songs rather than listening to an entire album. I've got some friends back home that will be playing you a song and halfway through the song, will go, 'Oh, wait, no, no, no — you've got to hear this other one! This other one's even better! Check this out!' It's like you can't tolerate a bridge anymore; you've got to get straight to the next little hook."

On the future of the album format:
Earley: "I think it depends on the genre. I tend to think that the people that listen to the kind of music we play have a little bit longer attention span and are a little more cued in musically, probably. Americana, alt rock, alt country … but still, with the kind of music we play, it's still a lot about the record, about the snapshot of that specific time."

On what helps the band stay together after 15 years:
Menteer: "You have to keep the music the No. 1 thing. As long as you're enjoying playing music together, I think you can keep doing it forever."

Listen to the rest of the interview to hear a bit more about Earley's influences and about the approach the band took in recording their latest album.

Songs Performed

"Lonesome Angel"
"Love Grow Cold"
"All Across This Land"
All songs off Blitzen Trapper's 2015 album, All Across This Land, available on Vagrant Records.

Hosted by Bill DeVille
Produced by Derrick Stevens
Engineered by Michael DeMark and Tom Coughlin
Web feature by Luke Taylor